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Some days it feels like 2020 is lasting an eternity, and other days I am flabbergasted that the calendar says it’s almost Christmas. I had big plans back in March and April to make art and sew and stuff flat-rate USPS boxes full of gifts handmade with love this year. Instead, I ate lots of M&Ms and Doritos and binged on Netflix in my free time. Perhaps you can relate?
We’re all in this together, so consider this list not only a good start on your efforts to safely support local makers who weren’t able to attend craft shows this year, but also a way to make yourself feel better when you’re packing your own boxes. And maybe get some things to help you manage some stress while you’re at it? You’re welcome!
Illustrator and author, Stacie Bloomfield, runs a virtual empire of home goods out of her Springdale shop, Gingiber. What started as a fun way to decorate her first baby’s nursery over a decade ago has become a one-stop-shop for everything from tea towels to quilting fabric to DIY craft kits.
What more do you need to know than what they say themselves on their website: Osage Clayworks makes handmade pottery in a really neat, old building. We’ve featured them in gift guides before, and for good reason. Whether you’re looking for decorative pieces or just your next favorite coffee mug, you can find it here.
Millers Mud Mill in Dumas creates contemporary pottery for folks who like their fruit bowls to be a little more abstract and colorful. Potter, Gail Miller, creates beautiful organic shapes that look out-of-this-world, but are very much inspired by her Arkansas home.
For the special cook or favorite host(ess) in your life, a handmade Arkansas native hardwood cutting board or rolling pin from Blue Mountain Woodworks in Timbo is a perfect choice. The father and son makers also custom-make furniture and cabinets that will be treasured for generations.
For more pottery suggestions, here’s a list of Arkansas makers we published previously.
“Price wears out. Quality wears on… and on,” is the mantra of Brian Wildt of Wildt Leather in Benton, AR. Wildt has taken his background in saddlemaking and moved to making some beautiful personal leather items like men’s belts, women’s purses, wallets, suspenders, holsters and more. A handmade leather product would be a great gift that will stand the test of time.
The folks at Happy State Co. can supply cute tees, hoodies, and caps for all your Arkansas pride needs, but also have stickers and phone pop sockets to stuff in your stockings. Something for everyone on your list, for sure.
The Pig is King at Southern Trend Clothing in Fayetteville! In addition to adorable tees and sweatshirts for men, women and kids, they also sell stickers, koozies and ball caps to round out the gift list. And if you have friends and family living in other southern states, they even offer options for those poor unfortunate souls.
Here is a great list of Arkansas T-Shirt Apparel companies on OnlyinArk.
Bathhouse Soapery & Caldarium has brick and mortar shops in Eureka Springs and Hot Springs, but you can order online from their beautiful website as well. No matter what part of you is feeling unloved, they have something delightful to make it all better. Soaps, bubble baths, creams, oils, perfume, and even deodorants and shaving accessories are all available, many of which are packaged in sets to make choosing easier.
Rock Creek Candles is a family-owned shop in Russellville owned by Tena & James Brooks. What began in 2003 as a garage-based business has turned into an Arkansas success story with over 30 gift and specialty shops in Arkansas carrying their goods. They carry the traditional scents you’d expect like Mulberry and Toasted Marshmallow, but also inspired variations with names like Tomato Vine, Deer Woods and Merlin’s Forest.
If you’re looking for spa-quality bath products, Colquitt Bath Company in Fort Smith can deliver. They work in small batches, handcrafting multi-functional soap and skin care products using ingredients that nurture the skin.
Brandy McNair of Bella Vita Jewelry has been making beautiful jewelry for over a decade, selling online and out of her beautiful shop in downtown Little Rock. Her boho-inspired necklaces, bracelets and earrings are often accentuated with precious stones and charms she makes by creating molds from her vintage button collection. She can also create custom brass cuffs stamped with your choice of words. They are the perfect additions to your favorite wrist stack.
The jewelry created and sold by Bang Up Betty are classy and sassy – the perfect combo!! She offers stamped and cast metal charms and pendants, as well as “salty” t-shirts, stickers, enamel lapel pins that make great individual gifts or stocking stuffers.
Leah Hall is the young mom behind Freckle Forest Jewelry. She’s a trained fine artist who just started making craft clay jewelry this year, but she has already been a popular choice for brides and others looking for one-of-a-kind accessories.
Another young mom, Micaleigh English, is making sweet mementos for your wall or your tree at Me to You Illustration in Fort Smith. You can order custom portraits by contacting her on Facebook.
Jeanetta Darley creates detailed illustrations of flowers, mushrooms, chickens, lace and buttons… just about anything that catches her eye can end up as a beautiful piece of art when she gets busy with her pencils and ink. She also creates sweet little crochet pieces, and sells coloring pages in her Etsy shop.
Gregory Mitchell combined 30 years of experience as a cartographer with a desire to learn the craft of letterpress and ended up on our list with his business, I Am Here Cards. Every state is represented, but of course, our favorite is The Natural State.
The Maringer family has cornered the market on fantasy and collectible coins at Shire Post Mint in Springdale. They create custom-designed coin sets based on the lore of classic literature such as The Hobbit and Game of Thrones. Other unique items include worry “stones” made from recycled bowling balls and beautiful two-sided moon coins. Perfect for the board game or fantasy literature fan in your life. Tip: Their Instagram feed is both beautiful and educational!
Ben Seward of Seward Knives has been making knives for 10 years since taking the Introduction to Bladesmithing class at the Moran School of Bladesmithing in Old Washington, AR. His blades are stunning to look at but are completely functional for tactical and hunting uses.
For your favorite gardener (or your own garden), the metal flowers and outdoor décor by Dillon Chandler of DWC Metals in Farmington make a perfect gift. Choose a small, tabletop arrangements for your socially-distanced outdoor dining, or large individual blooms or metal creatures to add interest in shady spots or on the privacy fence. So many ideas, and so much fun!
For more Arkansas makers, check out our holiday gift guide from 2018 here. And let us know who we missed by sharing your favorite Arkansas maker in the comments below!
Header image courtesy Brandy McNair at Bella Vita Jewelry.
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